Mike wasn’t certain how he’d gotten so damn lucky. Not only was Jasmine gorgeous, she lived in a beautiful house, had real food, and could kiss like nobody’s business.
Fucking exhausted, he still indulged, wanting to screw with her until his thing fell off or he died. Either way, he didn’t want this to stop.
He sucked her tongue.
She withdrew it, pecked his lips and stood.
“This is over?” So soon?
“Just for a few minutes.” Her gentle smile warmed more than the sun could. She stroked his jaw. “Your bed awaits.”
Her captivating offer reminded him of a story he’d read in high school—Homer’s Odyssey
and the Sirens’ song to sailors. As he recalled, the sea nymphs’ sweet voices tempted mariners to shore as long as the men managed to navigate past boulders. The poor bastards never did. Climbing her staircase seemed as daunting, given how pooped he was. Not that he’d tell her. With meager energy and grace, he pushed to his feet and scrubbed his face with his hands.
Jasmine stroked his backbone.
Shivers feathered outward from his spine to his fingers and toes. His legs wavered.
She looped her arm around his waist, draped his arm over her shoulder, and placed his palm on her ungodly soft breast. “You ready?” Not waiting for an answer, she pushed to her toes and sucked his neck.
Tingling warmth reached parts of him he didn’t know existed. It was an effort not to shout like a happy loon. “Ah, sure. Let’s go.”
She directed him to the steps. He didn’t follow. Though beat, he possessed far more strength than she and encountered little difficulty turning them both toward her office.
Jasmine tightened her arm around his waist and tried to hold him back. “What are you doing?”
He finished his yawn. “I have to get my Glock.” Leaving it in her office while they were down here was one thing. Having it one floor away as he dozed in her bedroom was quite another.
She shook her head. “What’s a Glock?”
“No. Why? Nothing’s going to happen to it on my desk.”
“Something might, if anyone breaks in here.”
“No one’s ever broken in here. This is a safe neighborhood.”
He rested his head against hers and closed his eyes. “Then why’d you tell me to park my bike in your garage?”
He wasn’t sure if that meant she recalled her earlier words and was sorry she’d said them, or she’d been lying. Not wanting to let suspicion ruin tonight, he opted for her having a faulty memory. “You do recall saying that, right?”
“Of course I do. But I wanted your bike in the garage so no one would hit it. My neighbors are elderly. They don’t see as well as they used to.”
If they were that old with bad eyesight, they wouldn’t be cruising the streets at midnight. Rather than point out the obvious, he stayed firm on his gun. “Whether your place is safe or not, there’s always a first time and I don’t intend to take a chance on either of us getting hurt. I’d feel better having it at my side.”
She shrank away. “You’re going to wear it in bed?”
He warned himself not to laugh at her cute naïveté. “I’ll put it on your nightstand. You do have one, don’t you?”
“I have a dresser. We could put it in a drawer.”
Beneath her underwear, if she owned any. He planted a brief kiss on her forehead and blinked until he got his lids to stay up. “We’ll pick the spot together. How’s that?” Unwilling to give her time to debate it, he broke her embrace and dragged his tired butt to her office.
She grabbed his wrist in both hands and stopped him from opening the door. “I’ll get it. Wait here.”
He slumped against the muraled wall and was overcome by another yawn before she returned. This time, unlike the last, she held the holstered gun as far from herself as she could.
“Careful.” He eased the barrel to one side so it no longer pointed at his groin. After taking the pistol from her and lowering it to thigh level, he crushed her hair in his hand and used it as an anchor to keep her to him. “Thanks.”
Intent on showing his appreciation, and to erase the anxiety on her face, he dipped to her breast and ran his tongue over the ruddy nipple. Her areola puckered instantly, the once smooth ring a landscape of peaks and valleys, further delighting his mouth. He drew it inside and sucked.
She arched her back to grant him full contact and stroked his neck. Her bewitching touch was almost more than he could manage.
He tongued her nipple a final time and managed to lift his head. A miracle since the sucker was fucking heavy. “Ready to go upstairs?”
Renewed passion showed in her dazed eyes. “Oh, yeah.”
He liked her enthusiasm and intended to reward her for it after a ten-minute nap. Like a good boy, he allowed her to pull him toward the second floor. On the fifth step, he stopped. “Does this stairway never end?”
“We only have eight more steps to go. Not bad at all.”
He turned away so she wouldn’t see his eyes rolling.
She took the next step.
Numerous paintings decorated the wall, the kind found at starving artists’ sales advertised on late-night TV. The uninspired landscapes and portraits didn’t match the elegance in this place. Nor did the frames fit the spaces they occupied. The powder-blue paint was a shade lighter around their edges, as if something larger had been there previously. “What happened to the original paintings that hung here?”
She halted on the next step. Since she still held his hand, her arm remained outstretched. “Those are the originals.”
He didn’t buy that for a second.
She regarded the paintings. Given how she frowned, he figured she saw what he had.
He wasn’t about to call her on it but didn’t want to drop the matter, either. “I see. There weren’t any other landscapes or portraits there before these. How about photos?”
She opened her mouth and closed it without comment.
He couldn’t imagine why it was such a big deal. He’d simply been curious and guessed she’d had money problems, which required her to sell the original paintings to pay the property taxes on this place. Now, he realized there had been photos in these spots and wondered why she took them down. “Did you have pictures of you and your parents here?”
Her face and chest flushed, darkening her rich skin.
“Hey, it’s okay.” He joined her on the step. “If the pictures caused you more pain, there was no reason to keep them there.”
Her eyes got shiny. “I waited years to put them away. I couldn’t stand the memories any longer.”
“You shouldn’t have to.” He cupped her chin. “Forgive me for having asked. None of my business. Maybe you should start telling me to shut up.”
“No. It’s all right.”
It wasn’t close to that. He wished he’d kept his stupid questions to himself. For a man who didn’t like anyone prying into his personal life, he sure as hell kept crossing the line when it came to her private stuff. His only excuse was that he was as interested in her as she seemed to be in him. “You’re sure?”
“Yeah.” She kissed his knuckles. “Let’s get you to bed so I can throw together a snack. By the way, I have Corona and Heineken. Is that all right rather than Dos Equis?”
He considered asking her to make some industrial-strength coffee but didn’t want her questioning his stamina. “Whatever you have is great. I’m not picky. Just make certain you return as fast as possible.”
“I couldn’t stay away even if I tried.”